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Back to nature at the Natura Beach Hotel & Villas September 9, 2007

Posted by grhomeboy in Cyprus Paphos, Hotels Cyprus.
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For those who like the quiet life or like to be close to nature, it is hard to beat the Natura Beach Hotel in Latsi.

Latsi and the Akamas nature reserve area had always been a favourite destination for our holidays, so we decided to check out the accommodation available in Polis and nearby Latsi. Once an important Kingdom, the area now offers a unique combination of sandy beaches, stunning countryside and some nightlife. The mild climate guarantees an abundance of wealth in flora and fauna specimens and wildlife. Our chosen destination was Natura Beach Hotel and Villas, on a beautiful bay at the edge of the Akamas.

The hotel’s understated buildings and the fact that the entire complex is hidden in lush vegetation, mainly citrus trees, makes it hard to spot from the road. The row of five villas is only a stone’s throw away from the main building and other facilities the hotel offers. The self contained three-bedroom villa that was going to be our home for the next days had stunning views of the bay and low profile hotel buildings on one side and the orchards on the other.

The bedrooms, all with en-suite bathrooms, were rather spacious. Each villa has a lounge and dining room, well equipped kitchenette, air-conditioning and heating in all rooms, satellite TV and radio, direct-dial telephone, a safe deposit box, and a private car-park. The cherry on the top was the 4x8m private pool. The secluded garden offered privacy.

The row of golden crest that mingled with the banana tree laden with fruit and sky reaching cypress trees provided a natural barrier between the villas. The neighbouring orchard on one side and a strip of olive groves on the other safeguarded the privacy needed to bathers from prying eyes. Huge rosebushes with delicate rosebuds provided the scented material and touch of home as swiftly they were cut and placed in a makeshift vase. Nature lovers will appreciate the early morning calls from roosters and the chirping of lively birds and other sounds not associated with city noises.

The hotel’s policy is based on a water and energy saving concept. All waste water is treated in a sophisticated biological station and then used to water the lawns. Solar panels are used for heating the water in the villas. All lights and air-conditioning in the bedrooms will go off when the key holder is removed from the slot thus avoiding the waste of energy while the guests are away. The air-conditioning will also go off if the balcony glass doors are not well shut.

The hotel’s small room capacity, 60 twin and double bedrooms in the main building and garden wings, reinforces their policy of respecting the environment. Discreet outdoor lighting and hardly any high pitched sounds in terms of hotel animation programmes safeguard the ecosystem. The lawn leading to the beach is higher than sea level and after a gradual descent via the paved path you encounter the protected turtle nests and an abundance of multicoloured pebbles. The long stretch of sandy beach that runs along the hotel’s beachfront has no sign of any umbrellas or beach beds.

Most of the beach is scattered with turtle nests and humans are the intruders here. On our daily, pre-breakfast swim in the sea, we would check up on some of the nests and try to decipher the footprints leading to them. On one such occasion, a bird predator’s footprints were well spotted and if it wasn’t for the metal protection strategically placed over the nest, the future of the turtle eggs would be uncertain. The turtle nests are monitored by a local conservation centre but also by hotel staff.

The garden, lit only by a couple of low lights leading to the beach reinforces the hotel’s policy of providing guests, tourists or otherwise, with relaxing and serene surroundings in complete harmony with nature. For those seeking a more active itinerary there are tennis, basketball and volleyball courts. The hotel’s mini gym is adequately equipped for a workout and for those enjoying a challenge, there are mountain bikes for rental. The hilly landscape is ideal for a strenuous ride or walk. For a gentler walk or jog, the very long stretch of sandy beach that leads to Polis camping site and to Latsi harbour is a good option.

As a holiday retreat, the hotel, and the villas in particular, is an ideal base for nature
lovers and bird watching enthusiasts. The nature trails of Akamas are very near and depending on the season, the hotel organises guided walks to the area. Polis’ open-air cafes and the more active nightlife of Latsi offer a choice of entertainment.

Natura Beach Hotel and Villas, POBox 66162, Polis, Paphos. Tel 26 323111, Fax 26 322822, email natura@cytanet.com.cy 

For more information > http://www.natura.com.cy

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The New Acropolis Museum in Athens September 9, 2007

Posted by grhomeboy in Architecture Greece, Arts Museums.
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The ribbon cuttings at the New Acropolis Museum in Athens, finally opening after a decade of delays, set to be in early 2008.

Bernard Tschumi’s delicate exercise in blending contemporary architecture into a weighty historical context carries a political message from the Greek government. It is an argument for bringing home the Parthenon Marbles.

new_acropolis_museum.jpg  A rendering of the New Acropolis Museum in Athens, designed by architect Bernard Tschumi.

Nana Mouskouri in aid of Greek fire victims September 9, 2007

Posted by grhomeboy in Music Life, Music Life Greek, Music Life Live Gigs.
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Nana Mouskouri, the Greek diva who represented Luxembourg in the 1963 Eurovision Song Contest and one of the most successful female singers worldwide, has offered 50.000 euros for the needs of the victims of the tragic fires that left Greece in mourning recently.

Nana Mouskouri, a UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador, has offered 50.000 euros through the Nana Mouskouri Focus on Hope Foundation. Furthermore, she will be offering all the proceeds from her concert in Geneva on 20th November as well as her fees for her concert at the Royal Albert Hall in London on 29th November.

Nana is still on her four-year World Fairwell tour that has taken her around the globe. After 45 years on stage, she has decided to say goodbye to singing by visiting the places where she performed throughout her career for one last time. Her next stops will be:

21/10 Belfast, Waterfront Hall (Ireland)
22/10 Dublin, National Concert Hall (Ireland)
25/10 Cardif, St David’s Hall (UK)
27/10 Gateshead, The Sage (UK)
29/10 London, Royal Albert Hall (UK)
31/10 Manchester, Bridgewater Hall (UK)
01/11 Glasgow, Royal Concert Hall (UK)
03/11 Birmingham, Symphony Hall (UK)
15/11 Saarbrücken, Saarlandhalle (Germany)
17/11 Liège, Le forum (Belgium)
18/11 Esch, Rockhal (Luxembourg)
20/11 Geneva, Arena (Switzerland)
24/11 Paris, Opera Garnier (France)

The proceeds from her Paris concert will be offered to the Hopiteaux de Paris – Hopiteaux de France Foundation.

Related Links > www.nana.mouskouri.online.fr

College of Charleston new steward of first history book September 9, 2007

Posted by grhomeboy in Hellenic Light Americas.
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One of the US oldest colleges is the new home of one of the world’s oldest printed books.

The College of Charleston, founded in 1770, has obtained the 1502 Aldine edition of Herodotus’ “The Histories” with the help of a donation, said Marie Ferrara, head of special collections at the college’s Addlestone Library.

The Aldine edition, written in ancient Greek, is the first printed version of the book Herodotus wrote about 440 B.C. and is one of about 25 copies that exist today. The book tells about the wars between Greece and Persia fought from 490 to 479 B.C., Ferrara said. The author, Herodotus was the first to write a comprehensive account of historical events and he is known as “the father of history,” Ferrara said.

The book also is the first multinational account of historic events and provides a travel guide and commentary on the culture at the time, said Darryl Phillips, chairman of the college’s classics department. The book documents “the beginnings of the east-west tension that’s dominated history for 2,500 years,” he said.

Students in Phillips’ Greek history class will begin reading the English translation of the book in the next few weeks and will be able to look at the 1502 book. “To have a rare primary source like this in invaluable,” Phillips said.

The book itself is worth about $50,000, said Teresa Johanson of Johanson Rare Books in Baltimore. It was bought with a gift from Charles and Celeste Patrick, college officials said. But Ferrara hopes the ancient book can help bring students in a digital world back to the bound-paper world of the library.

Anybody is welcome to come see the book, she said, as long as they make an appointment. The book is stored in an environmentally controlled vault in the special collections department. A staff member has to be present when anyone is looking at the book.

Cephalonia a treasured island September 9, 2007

Posted by grhomeboy in Books Life, Books Life Greek.
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Louis de Bernières on how a change of holiday destination led to the writing of Captain Corelli’s Mandolin

For much of my adult life my ideal holiday was to load up my Morris Traveller with camping equipment and drive around France. I have some French both in my blood and in my temperament, and it’s the country I love best. I usually kept off the péage and stuck to the N roads, because then you can stop to eat in village restaurants, and for sight seeing and walking. “Le camping sauvage” is illegal in France, but in fact nobody really gives a damn, as long as you don’t make a mess, don’t stay too long, and ask permission if anyone is about. France is much bigger than Britain, and much less densely populated, so it’s easier to disappear into the woods and fields, and put up a tent. If the weather gets too appalling, there are plenty of little hotels where one can seek asylum. One of the nicest things to do is have a destination, but to get there and back slowly, so that you have a couple of days al fresco after having spent 10 days in a place like St Remy de Provence, or Arcachon. Back in the 80s my girlfriend Caroline put up with these holidays for a while, and I like to delude myself that she enjoyed them, but there came a time when she said “Please can we do something other than drive around France in the Morris?” and I said “OK, you come up with something.”

On the bus from the airport in Cephalonia, the tour guide kept mentioning the earthquake in 1953. It didn’t take long to realise that the islanders are still obsessed with that dreadful catastrophe that destroyed all the architecture that they had inherited from the Venetians. By this time I felt that I had come to the end of my Latin American period, because the next volume would have been about a dictator, but lately all the republics, with the exception of Cuba, had suddenly democratised and made the project anachronistically pointless.

It was savagely hot in Cephalonia. Caroline sat with a wet towel wrapped around her head, and I got sunstroke as usual. I quite enjoy the hot and cold shivers, but not the diarrhoea and the stinging. We had hired a motorcycle, and I spent a lot of time riding about just admiring the scenery. It was back then that I realised that Greek communists don’t love their country, because they cover even the beauty spots with their hideous red graffiti. I passed a pine marten, squashed in the road, and that gave me the character of Psipsina. I watched a lovely young woman waiting in the cafe next door to ours in the main square of Argostoli, and she became Pelagia. There was a man who herded his goats past our valley every evening, and he became Alekos. The most important thing was hearing that the Italians had invaded during the war, and that in the main they had got on reasonably well with the locals. They had no theories about racial superiority, and the worst thing said about them was that they were chicken thieves. They behaved exactly according to stereotype, which of course means singing, flirting, footballing, and playing guitars, mandolins and accordions. My father was in the Italian campaign, and has the same kind of memories. Cephalonia was already very Italianate anyway; the local music consisting of cantades whose tunes are Italian, but whose words are Greek. The Germans, by contrast, were arbitrary and brutal, and liked to march about to brass bands. The junk shops of Greece are still full of their flugelhorns and tubas. There was only one romance between a German and a Greek on Cephalonia, and she had to leave after the war, but there were plenty of Italian/Greek ones. Since there has always been a literature of romance “across the barricades”, it seemed a good idea to add to it.

When I got home I wrote to the Historical and Cultural Museum of Argostoli, which was run by a woman called Helen Cosmetatos. She was so formidable that during the war even the Germans were frightened of her. She sent me a long reading list, and the period of research began. I had had Greek neighbours before I moved to Earlsfield, so I used to pop over to Raynes Park to ask them important things such as “How do you say ‘fuck off’ in Greek?” Once I had a truly extraordinary stroke of luck when someone turned up at their house who had been in the earthquake.

I immersed myself in everything Greek and Italian. I pillaged Charing Cross Road for old history books and memoirs, I made Greek food, listened to the music, read the writers. I read all of Kazantzakis, for example, and discovered to my amazement that the Greeks had by far the best modern poets and composers. I am still completely in love with them. I bought a superb mandolin in Portugal, and learned to play the things that Corelli would have played. I used to gloat about how much Corelli would have loved that mandolin.

The book was a pleasure to write, and I wrote it at exactly the right time in my life. It has a young man’s energy, but the balance of someone on the cusp of middle age. I had recently been able to give up teaching, and was exhilarated by that supreme and longed-for liberation. I had yet to experience any weariness with the literary world, and was full of the wonder of being a published author. Caroline was a complete sweetheart and everything was still going well with us. The book was framed around some hellish events, but when I look at it now it seems to glow with the kind of light that overpowered me when I first went to Cephalonia. It isn’t my masterpiece, because that’s what the subsequent novel Birds Without Wings is, but it is the book that entirely reconfigured my life. People often irritate me by saying “I loved your book”, as if I had never written any other, and they never can remember the title correctly. My favourite is Captain Gorilla’s Mandarin.

Greek Festival to dance again September 9, 2007

Posted by grhomeboy in Greek Diaspora Festivals.
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The Spartanburg Greek Festival will take place from 11 a.m. to 10:30 p.m. Friday and Saturday and 11 a.m. until 7:30 p.m. September 16 at the St. Nicholas Greek Orthodox Church, 697 Asheville Highway.

The festival will include Greek food and pastries, music, dancing, art, church tours, imported gifts, souvenirs, jewelry and a Kids’ Corner operated by the Spartanburg Children Shelter.

A portion of proceeds will benefit Mobile Meals. Call 864-585-5961 for more information.

Greek culture shines in Indianapolis September 9, 2007

Posted by grhomeboy in Greek Diaspora Festivals.
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Here’s your chance to get your fill of souvlaki, saganaki and spanakopita.

Fans of Greek food know all about the pork and chicken kebabs, the flaming Kasseri cheese and the spinach and feta cheese stuffed inside delicate phyllo dough. You can get those and more than a dozen other food items, including gyros and baklava, at the 34th annual Indianapolis Greek Festival.

The festival started Friday and continues from noon to 11 p.m. today. While many people go for the food, the festival also includes plenty of Greek music, dancing, church tours and more.

General admission is $5. Food and beverage tickets are available inside the festival at Holy Trinity Greek Orthodox Church, 4011 N. Pennsylvania St. Free parking and a shuttle are available. To learn more about that and other aspects of the festival, go to www.indygreekfest.org/